Road construction on a grand scale

Growing economies need ever-better infrastructure; with 3,200km of road to build the Maghreb states are thinking big

There is little argument that North Africa has developed into a boom region in recent years. In order to maintain this growth, huge investments have been made in a gigantic road construction project. “Autoroute Transmaghrébine” is the name of the largest African road building project ever and is currently the largest in the world. Once completed, the motorway is planned to connect the Maghreb states of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya over a stretch of more than 3,000km. The construction work is already well on its way in Algeria, where three consortia were awarded the contracts for building 1,200 km of the motorway. Numerous machines from the Wirtgen Group are also being employed for this project, including 36 pavers, 30 Hamm rollers and Wirtgen slipform pavers for building the concrete crash barriers.

Construction of the longest section, the one running through Algeria and extending over 1,200km, began back in March 2007. According to the National Road Agency, the road building project has created some 100,000 new jobs in Algeria alone, with the number of jobs created indirectly expected to reach two to three times that figure.

The motorway passes 55 cities with a total population of more than 50mn, 22 international airports, as well as the largest ports, railway stations, universities, hospitals and the most important industrial and tourist areas in the three Maghreb states. The “Autoroute Transmaghrébine” thus represents the most crucial economic nerve of the rising region.

The motorway, with three lanes in each direction spans the country from East to West, passing over 190 bridges and through five tunnels. After completion, the travel time from the Tunisian-Libyan border to Morocco will be 10 hours.

The two countries of Libya and Mauritania, both also members of the Union of the Arab Maghreb (UAM), are likewise involved in the mammoth project. In the medium term, the “Autoroute Transmaghrébine” is planned to traverse the whole of North Africa. And thought is even being given to constructing a tunnel beneath the Straits of Gibraltar between Morocco and Spain to connect North Africa to Europe.



Three construction consortia are involved in the building of the 1,200km Algerian stretch of the “Autoroute Transmaghrébine”. The eastern section running from the Algerian city of Bordj-Bou-Arreridj to the border with Tunisia is being built by the Japanese consortium Cojaal. A subsection around Algiers is executed by Algerian contractors Altro and Cosider, while the rest of the section is handled by the Chinese consortium CITIC-CRCC. Many additional companies from all over the world are also involved in the construction of bridges, tunnels and drainage systems, etc. The capital investment for the job site in Algeria alone totals $11bn.


Quality and quantity

The “Autoroute Transmaghrébine” over the entire 1,200km stretch is designed as follows: base course of cement-treated gravelly sand is placed in a thickness of 20cm, followed by a 14cm bituminous bound base, with the road finally being surfaced with a wearing course of asphaltic concrete (0/14) between 6 and 8cm thick.

For their section of the motorway, the Japanese contractors are using 12 modern Vögele Super 2100-2 pavers, each equipped with the AB 600-2 TP2 Extending Screed, as well as four Super 1900-2 pavers with AB 500-2 TP2 Extending Screeds. The “dash 2” generation machines certainly have their hands full on the 365km job site. The Vögele pavers are building the three lanes in each direction in a width of 6.25m. For grade and slope control with Niveltronic Plus, the Japanese teams use the Vögele RoadScan sensor system.

A fleet of Hamm rollers is being used for final compaction of the individual layers. The fleet includes eight 12-ton HD 120 tandem rollers and eight 18-ton GRW 18 rubber-tyred rollers, capable of reliably producing the specified final density.



The Chinese consortium, too, opted for super 2100-2 pavers to build their section of the motorway. Algerian contractors moved to the job site around the capital city of Algiers with two Super 1800-2 and two Super 1800-1 pavers. All four machines are equipped with High Compaction Screeds. In order to meet the tight deadline, the paving teams of the Algerian contractors are using their pavers in 14 hour shifts.


On-site service

Supply of spares and the performance of maintenance services on all machines involved is key with projects of this scale. The Vögele partner, Demdistral S. p. A., handled this work for the Vögele pavers. Mr Ying Erqiang, Deputy Managing Director of the Chinese construction consortium, was enthusiastic about the global on-site support: “As far as the machine technology is concerned, Wirtgen China provided us with their expert advice beforehand, and Demdistral is responsible for the After-Sales Services in Algeria. The guarantee that the machines will be supplied with parts on the job site and the reliability of the Super pavers are extremely important factors for us when it comes to meeting our contractual obligations.”

The project continues.

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